Diplomacy: Eyes on Djibouti in Somalia and Kenya peace deal

Diplomacy: Eyes on Djibouti in Somalia and Kenya peace deal

A Djibouti-led mission to resolve accusations of territorial violations between Kenya and Somalia has concluded a fact-finding mission in both countries.

Sent by Djibouti’s President Ismael Guelleh, the mission comprised a team of diplomats and military chiefs nominated by President Guelleh and visited Kenya and Somalia past week to verify claims by Mogadishu that Nairobi had interfered with Somalia’s territory.

Kenya is hoping to use the findings to rebut Somalia’s accusations.

The delegation led by Djibouti’s ambassadors to Somalia and Kenya, Aden Hassan Aden and Yacin Elmi Bouh respectively, toured Mogadishu, Nairobi, and the Mandera-Gedo border area, on a five-day fact-finding mission after which they will table a report to President Guelleh.

Fact-finding mission

The report of the fact-finding mission may not be binding on either country, but leaders of the three countries agreed that it should de-escalate tension.

In Kenya, the team met Foreign Affairs (Raychelle Omamo) and Defence (Monica Juma) Cabinet secretaries as well as the Chief of Kenya Defence Forces Gen Robert Kibochi.

Kenya denied Somalia’s accusation of territorial violations and provided satellite images of Somalia’s recent troop movements in the last eight months, indicating the Somalia Forces were now just about 20 meters from the common border.

Nairobi sees Somalia’s deployment of troops as a threat while Kenyan troops remain cantoned at their camp, some five kilometers away from the border.

Further, Kenya says the border tensions have disrupted free movement for the border communities, many of whom have intermarried, as well as for children schooling on the Kentan side. Kenya’s Ministry of Education says some 1,200 pupils from Somalia are enrolled in Kenyan schools in Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa since the reopening in January.

Mogadishu on December 15 severed diplomatic ties with Kenya accusing the country of “constant interference” in Somalia affairs.

When the Djiboutian delegation toured Mogadishu on Saturday, Balal Mohamed Osman, Somalia’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and his Permanent Secretary Mohamed Ali-Nur Haji met the officials and tabled four allegations against Kenya, including violation of Somali airspace and maritime territorial waters, supporting militia to destabilize Somalia, and that Kenyan forces serving under the African Union peacekeeping missions Amisom had ‘abandoned’ their stations inside Somalia, allowing Al Shabaab terrorist group to resurge.

The maritime border dispute is a matter subject to a court case at the International Court of Justice.

Re-engage

Macharia Munene, a Kenyan professor of History and International Relations at the USIU-Africa opined that the mission was likely to buy time for the two countries to re-engage and will not pass judgment on Kenya.

“In essence, it will create an opportunity to reduce tensions because a hearing desk ensures both sides can focus on the solution,” he said. Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau told The EastAfrican that the Djiboutian delegation was proposed by President Guelleh and endorsed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad). Djibouti is currently the chair of Igad.

Mr. Macharia said: “Among the things agreed at the sidelines of December 2020, 38th Extraordinary Summit was that through the good offices of the President of Djibouti. Djibouti would undertake a verification mission along the Kenya border with Somalia in order to establish the veracity of the baseless accusations that were being leveled against Kenya by the Somali government.’’

“The verification mission has taken place successfully and with co-operation between the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence of the two countries. Kenya looks forward to a positive report that will categorically debase all the accusations once and for all.”

Though endorsed by regional bloc Igad, the fact-finding mission is made up of Djiboutian officials only including Gen Osman Noor Soubagleh, a former Force Commander of the African Union Mission, who is now a senior advisor on military affairs for the African-Union endorsed stabilization force in Somalia.

Those who say Kikuyus don’t like Raila are mistaken; I Will Climb the Mountain- Raila Odinga

Those who say Kikuyus don’t like Raila are mistaken; I Will Climb the Mountain- Raila Odinga

Over the last two weeks, the former Prime Minister has left no doubt that he is gathering his arsenal for the top job, this time determined to inherit President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Mt. Kenya backyard

The ODM leader and Deputy President William Ruto are locked in a do-or-die battle for the vote-rich Mt. Kenya in their bids to occupy State House in 2022.

Both are keen to inherit President Uhuru Kenyatta’s political backyard, which, electoral commission data reveals, has 35 out of every 100 voters in Kenya.

Aware of these huge numbers, the fierce rivals are dangling the running mate carrot, with the announcement by Mr. Kenyatta of his intention to back a person from a community other than Kikuyu or Kalenjin for President giving Mr. Odinga, a Luo, an edge.

But ODM also faces competition from Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, who has also been attempting to climb the mountain. Yesterday, Mr. Odinga met the Kikuyu Council of Elders for the second time in less than three months, bullish about his chances in Central.

“Where do people get this notion that Kikuyus hate Raila? I am not new in this region and soon I will climb the mountain and they will be surprised,” Mr. Odinga said in the meeting also attended by the Githurai business community and a host of pro-Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) MPs.

“The late Kenneth Matiba taught me how to climb the mountain and very soon I will climb it,” he said

Mr. Odinga said the region should support BBI as they are determined with President Kenyatta to make Kenya a first world country through the document.

Education Chief Administrative Secretary Zack Kinuthia told the region to ignore the “dynasty” and “hustler” narrative being pushed by Dr. Ruto, terming it “nonsense”.

Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri told Nation that serious presidential contenders were keen on the Mt. Kenya vote because of its numerical strength that would automatically tilt the 2022 vote.

“We have over 8 million votes and we will be king-makers in 2022. Any serious presidential candidate will need to talk to us, and offer us something in his government that makes sense. Ruto assumes we will vote for him for free and has operated on that basis,” he said.

Mr. Kamau Mweha, a key figure in Mr. Odinga’s grassroots meetings in Central, told the Nation that plans were underway to take the ODM leader to the ground in a meet-the-people tour.

“When we hit the ground running, that’s when the naysayers will know what we are made of,” said Mr. Mweha who hosted Mr. Odinga for a BBI signatures collection exercise at Kangari in Kigumo Constituency last month.

Dr. Ruto, however, seems to have a head-start in the region and has rallied several elected leaders to his camp. His key lieutenants include Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Alice Wahome (Kandara), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, Isaac Mwaura, and several other first-term MPs and MCAs.

On the other hand, Mr. Odinga is banking on Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe. Others are Jubilee-nominated MP Maina Kamanda and former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga who was on Monday hosted by Mr. Odinga at his Karen home among other youthful leaders under the banner of Team One Nation.

Besides these groups, Mr. Odinga has also endeared himself to the Wachira Kiago-led Kikuyu Council of Elders as well as the self-styled Council of Eminent Persons in Murang’a County led by its chairman Joe Kibe, Secretary Nyamu Njoka, former ACK Bishop Rev Gideon Githiga, and Royal Media Services Chairman S. K. Macharia – cogs in what appears to be a well-oiled campaign for the former Prime Minister.

Why Appointing Naomi Campbell as Magical Kenya ambassador is the best decision ever by CS Balala

Why Appointing Naomi Campbell as Magical Kenya ambassador is the best decision ever by CS Balala

Kenyans negative reaction to Naomi Campbell’s appointment as Magical Kenya International Ambassador is completely misplaced.

While each one is entitled to their opinion I also dare say that we are very bitter with everything and anything.

Allow me to state a few facts.

Naomi Campbell is NOT the first and will NOT be the last tourism ambassador to be appointed.

Please allow me to enlighten you. Lupita maybe our daughter but she is now a high-flying brand and if we are to get her to be prepared to pay top $$$ for her brand. Let me also tell you that even the father who is Governor of Kisumu cannot just use her image to promote Kisumu, when you reach Lupitas level agents run the show they monetize every single move.

Naomi Campbell is equally not affordable and I will tell you for free that she is doing all this pro bono for the love she has for Malindi and Kenya. If we were to pay Naomi she would wipe a good chunk of our destination marketing budget.

Now let’s talk of numbers.

Some claim that Naomi is not influential and she has lost her mojo. Let me help you. Instagram is one major platform for destination marketing and Naomi has 10+Million followers while younger Lupita has an 8.9Million.

Both are influential but Naomi offered so why should we refuse beside Naomi is even visiting us when the good part of the world is under lockdown.

Naomi has over 750K Twitter followers and 500K subscribers on YouTube.

Finally, nothing stops us from appointing Lupita but it will cost us money to do that and I will tell you for free that Kenya’s budget is 1/10 of what South Africa is given so you can do your maths.

I respect Kenya Tourism Board for stretching that $$$ to the limit to deliver hence any star who is willing and ready to adopt Kenya and help us promote Magical Kenya is more than welcome.

Naomi considers Kenya her second home and every Christmas she is opting to come to Malindi Kenya just the way Oprah Winfrey has made South Africa her second home. None other than Madiba embraced her as his lost daughter if you care to read her relationship with South Africa and I would place Naomi on the same pedestal since she has been coming to Malindi for the past 15 + years.

Those claiming that Naomi is too old, she just turned 50 and she is looking gorgeous as ever. It is said your network is your network and Naomi has connections and reach across Europe, UK, Canada, USA, and even Africa and right here in Kenya. Naomi is not lightweight. Her list of friends and associates reads the who is who on the global arena. Please make google your friend.

Instead of bashing Naomi, we should be exploring to see how she can help young models to get opportunities and many other doors that she can help to open.

Those who think we paid millions to get her I can bet we paid nothing and all this is the personal goodwill from my good friend CS Balala. Please don’t ever kid yourself that Naomi’s appearance fee is cheap…she is not and for her to have offered which is not being said is a kind gesture from a successful model of color with African roots.

To my fellow Kenyans, let’s reduce the bile and learn to appreciate others, and embrace people of goodwill.

Dear Naomi, please don’t read too much into sentiments expressed by Kenyans on social media. You see we use social media to ventilate and please take it with a pinch of salt. I leave you with the words of Mitchel Obama ….” When they go low, you go high “. Keep soaring.

Somalia and Kenya still have a road to neighbourly cooperation

Somalia and Kenya still have a road to neighbourly cooperation

In December, Somalia cut diplomatic ties with Kenya accusing it of repeatedly “meddling in its internal affairs” and “violating its sovereignty”. The move brought the long-simmering tensions between the two neighbors to the surface and ushered in a tinderbox situation that will have wide-reaching geopolitical ramifications if not resolved quickly.

Neither Somalia nor Kenya can afford the dispute to turn into a protracted crisis: The two East African nations share a long land border and have strong socio-economic ties.

Indeed, Somalia is currently home to tens of thousands of Kenyan workers who play an important role in the country’s corporate, aid, service, and hospitality sectors. Until early December, Somalia had a visa-on-arrival arrangement with Kenya, which allowed Kenyan nationals to do business in the country with relative ease.

Kenya, on the other hand, hosts hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees and is home to a large population of ethnic Somalis. It has also invested heavily in Somalia’s post-conflict reconstruction and hosted several conferences that played an important role in the success of peace-building efforts in Somalia. The Somali diaspora also has significant investments in Kenya due to the relatively favorable working and market conditions in the country.

Moreover, Kenya is one of the countries contributing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the two nations are currently fighting against a shared enemy that is threatening their safety and stability: Al-Shabab.

The multiple roots of the Kenya-Somalia crisis

While the Somali authorities have not yet disclosed the specific reasons behind their decision to cut diplomatic ties with Kenya, there are several well-known tension points in the two countries’ relations that likely paved the way for the move.

The trade imbalance between the neighbors and Kenya’s repeated suspension of cross-border trade activities in recent years due to “security concerns” is one of these tension points.

The trade of Khat, a herbal stimulant widely grown in Kenya, is currently at the heart of the trade disagreements between the two nations.

Somalia, where Khat is widely enjoyed, has long been Kenya’s main export market for the red-stemmed, chewable green shrub. In March, however, Somalia practically banned Khat imports from Kenya, citing the spread of COVID-19 as the reason. The move was seen by many as an attempt by Mogadishu to use Khat as a bargaining chip in its efforts to establish a more balanced trade relationship with Nairobi.

Somalia is also discontented with Kenya’s refusal to issue visas to its citizens on arrival, despite such an arrangement being agreed to in 2019 during a meeting between President Mohamed Farmaajo and his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta.

Jubaland, one of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous states which border Kenya, is another source of tension between the two neighbors.

On November 30, Somalia expelled Kenya’s ambassador and recalled its own envoy from Nairobi, accusing Kenya of interfering in the electoral process in the state. Local authorities in Jubaland claim Mogadishu is seeking to remove the state’s President Ahmed Madobe, a key ally of Nairobi, and put a loyalist in power to increase central control. In the meantime, Somalia is accusing Kenya of using its military presence in the region to support and maintain a regional government that it considers “unfriendly”.

Kenya and Somalia are also at odds due to a spat over maritime borders, with possibly lucrative Indian Ocean oil and gas reserves at stake. The dispute now rests with the International Court of Justice, but Kenya is still trying to reach an out of court settlement. It is safe to say this case, whose final hearing is due in March 2021, has influenced how Nairobi treats Mogadishu. Kenya seems to be failing to understand that no Somali leader in their right mind would dare an out of court settlement with Kenya since it would turn the public opinion against them.

The two countries are also having disputes in the security arena. Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) serving under AMISOM in Somalia are facing criticism for allegedly targeting Somali telecommunications towers, which are crucial to the local economy as they are used not only for communication but also for monetary transactions, under the guise of trying to break al-Shabab’s communication channels. The Somali government openly condemned Kenya for destroying the towers, even though the authorities in Nairobi continue to deny any involvement in the attacks.

Somaliland, the northwestern region that declared independence from Somalia in 1991, is another source of conflict between Mogadishu and Nairobi. A Kenyan delegation visited Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa in July to discuss bilateral relations and in December, President Kenyatta hosted Somaliland leader Musa Bihi Abdi in Nairobi. At the end of the visit, the two leaders announced closer relations in a joint statement, with Kenya committing to opening a consulate in Somaliland by the end of March. Many believe this was the main reason behind the latest escalation in tensions.

Domestic politics has also played a role in Somalia’s decision to sever diplomatic ties with Kenya. A presidential election is scheduled to take place in the country on February 8, and once again President Farmaajo is trying to win the race by creating an outside enemy and stoking nationalist sentiment. Prior to the 2016 election, Farmaajo presented Ethiopia as an enemy that only he can successfully confront and this narrative helped him obtain the presidency. Today, he is clearly trying to do the same with Kenya. Farmajo’s government and supporters are also pushing the narrative that opposition groups in the country contesting his presidential bid are pro-Kenya and hence “traitors”.

The way forward

Despite all the aforementioned pressure points, the Somali and Kenyan governments need each other to ensure the future security and prosperity of their people. They can still choose the path of diplomatic sanity, engage in talks, and prevent a physical confrontation that would be devastating not only for their own nations but also for the wider region.

With the severance of diplomatic ties, it became clear that the “wait-and-see” attitude both countries assumed in regards to their bilateral problems is not working. If they are to move beyond this crisis and build a strong neighborly alliance, a massive paradigm shift in the way the two countries relate to each other is needed.

Somalia and Kenya can take several steps, together and independently, to ease current tensions and resolve outstanding issues:

A committee consisting of Somali and Kenyan technocrats can be tasked with mapping the issues and grievances between the two nations and offering policy recommendations. Issues like the trade imbalance, Khat exports, visa regimes, and border security can be resolved swiftly and effectively if both governments commit to following the recommendations of this technical and bilateral committee.

A similar committee can also be formed to resolve problems between the KDF, Somali forces and local administrations. The alleged misconduct of the KDF forces is not undermining only the relations between Somalia and Kenya but also regional security. If both nations acknowledge this fact and allow for claims of misconduct to be independently investigated, they can eventually come up with an effective security strategy acceptable to both sides and keep their border areas secure.

The Jubaland dispute, meanwhile, can also be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy. The Somali authorities, rather than taking punitive measures against Kenya such as expelling its ambassador, should directly discuss their grievances over the issue with Kenya’s leaders. Moreover, rather than acting as if all of the regional state’s problems are tied to Kenya, they should treat the issue as a domestic one. If Mogadishu manages to come to an understanding with the Jubaland administration through peaceful consensus building and dialogue, Kenya will automatically find itself unable to intervene in the situation and the problem will resolve itself.

But the two nations should not be left to deal with this multifaceted dispute on their own. Other African powers and regional bodies should also move to put pressure on Somalia and Kenya to swiftly restore their diplomatic relations and resolve their grievances through dialogue. Ethiopia, which has close ties to both countries and has recently played a leading role in the resolution of many regional conflicts, can take steps to bring the two administrations to the negotiating table. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which counts both Somalia and Kenya among its members, can also help bring the dispute to an end. The trade bloc already started putting pressure on Somalia to resolve its diplomatic tiff with Kenya during its 38th Extraordinary Assembly in late December and convinced Mogadishu to “take the first steps” to resolve the dispute. These efforts should gain further speed in the new year.

In the end, neither Kenya nor Somalia has much to gain from a protracted conflict. There is still a clear path to peaceful coexistence and neighbourly cooperation and the two nations should get on it before its too late.

Kwale County: How devolution has boosted food security

Kwale County: How devolution has boosted food security

Since the devolution government started, Kwale has made progress in achieving food security, says Agriculture executive Joanne Nyamasyo.

She said the county has tried to mitigate the dry land areas like Kinango and Lunga Lunga by establishing multimillion-shilling water dam projects.

The water has promoted irrigation farming and livestock keeping in various parts of the region. Some of the dams are Mwakalanga, Kizingo, Mkanda, and Dziweni.

At the commencement of 2019, the county director for the National Drought Management Authority Roman Shera reported that about 70,000 people were affected by hunger. Kinango and Samburu were severely hit.

Nyamasyo said with the interventions of food projects such as the Nyalani food security programme, the county projects to have surplus food by 2022.

The sponsorship programme is in the form of revolving funds, whereby the group has to contribute 10 percent and be given 90 percent. It is a co-funded project by the World Bank, the private sector the national and county governments.

It is ongoing in all the county’s 20 wards, where it is sponsoring some 364 farming groups to help the county meet its target within the given duration.

“For farmers to do well, they need to be financially and skillfully empowered and already, 160 groups out of the total number we sponsor are doing great,” Nyamasyo said.

In a sign of the targeted goals being achieved, harvests have increased. Farmers have raised their maize production from five bags to more than 22.

The county executive said soon enough, the region will forget about relief food and become independent. In August, the Agriculture ministry allocated Sh57 million to boost the Nyalani food security programme.

The PS, Hamadi Boga, said the project will be a game-changer in food production. He said the government is determined to equip and grow Nyalani farming programme to enable it to supply food in Kwale and the neighboring county of Mombasa.

Boga said the funds will assist in restructuring the farm to enhance its production capacity. “We had a lot of complaints from the farmers and with what we are planning, I think it will strengthen the farm efficiency by giving sufficient yields,” he said.

The state is working with Kalro to identify the potential of growing other crops. The PS said Nyalani farmers had first started with a trial that made them realise which type of crops to concentrate on and where to rectify.

“We have what we call suitability maps. By specializing, you do it best, and that’s why we are trying to see what can do best with fewer effects,” the PS said, adding that such expertise would help improve food security.

The skills include the appropriate arrangement of crops, planting seasons, and how to improve fertility using different fertilizers.

The state is seeking a market so farmers can produce in bulk food that has a high demand. It also wants farmers to be educated on marketing. The PS said they want to create processing industries in future to tap the multi-agribusiness sector.

“For maximum profit, we have to take advantage of every possible opportunity, meaning we should not just depend on taking our tomatoes to the market but process it to improve the value chain,” he said.

Kalro research deputy director Filister Makini said they are working day and night to find out the suitable variety of crops that can resist diseases effectively.

“We conduct analysis for soil fertility, crop breeding, and biotechnology, and share the knowledge with our farmers to enhance productivity,” she said.

She said the country at large has not become food secure, hence the need to stir up agricultural activities at the county level.

Makini said with good agricultural practices, not only the Nyalani people but also countrywide farmers can get good yields, building food security in the process.

She said Kalro is investigating other crops, such as coconuts, citrus fruits, and cashew nuts, to see if they can speedily be revived.

Full scale rebellion against Uhuru as DP Ruto launches new party, UDA

Full scale rebellion against Uhuru as DP Ruto launches new party, UDA

The United Democratic Alliance – a party associated with Deputy President William Ruto – has formally been registered.

The launching however could only mean a full-scale rebellion against President Kenyatta by his Deputy.

It is the clearest indication that Ruto’s hustler movement is determined to dump the ruling Jubilee Party, ahead of next year’s general election.

Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu confirmed the successful name change and registration UDA, formerly Party of Development and Reform (PDR). In the gazette notice published on Monday, the party also sought to change its symbol from a bull to a wheelbarrow with Kazi Ni Kazi as its slogan.

“The registrar of political parties takes note of the decision taken by your party and the changes effected on January 7, 2021, upon the expiry of the statutory period in line with Section 20(3A) of the PPA,” Nderitu said.
In a letter to PDR secretary-general, Nderitu said that her office had received submissions from Khalid Njiraini Tianga who objected to the use of UDA but later withdrew the reservations.

PDR had issued a public notice of intention to change its name to UDA and its symbol to a wheelbarrow – Ruto’s hustler nation signature slogan.

With the registrar’s green-light, the UDA started an aggressive rebranding campaign including acquiring a spacious office at Kilimani’s Makindi Road called Hustler’s Centre.

Ruto’s allies expressed excitement with the successful change of name as they shared photos of the new offices under renovation.

“It’s now official, the new baby in town is UnDA formerly PDR which was born again,” Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen tweeted.

It appears that the DP’s strategists schemed to beat the strict laws barring them from associating with a different political party by acquiring PDR which is in a coalition agreement with Jubilee.

Murkomen, in his tweet, made it clear that those associating with the new UDA party face no legal danger.

“For now UnDA is a Jubilee Coalition member with highest office holder in Parliament being the Senate Deputy Majority Leader,” Murkomen said

Interestingly, this is the 6th life of the new party as it has been recycled five times since its formation in 2012.

PDR – Party of Development and Reforms was established as the Party of Action (POA) in February 2012 by Hillary Yegon in order to contest the 2013 general elections.[1] It later formed an electoral pact with the Kenya National Congress (KNC) for the 2013 general elections,[2] which was formalized as the Eagle Alliance. The alliance nominated the KNC’s Peter Kenneth as its presidential candidate.

In the elections, Kenneth finished fourth in the presidential contest with 0.6% of the vote. The Party of Action failed to win a parliamentary seat, receiving less than 0.05% of the vote.

Prior to the 2017 general elections, the party has renamed the Party of Reforms and Development. In the elections, the PDR endorsed incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, also winning four seats in the National Assembly and one in the Senate.

However, allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta said the DP and his diehards had left the ruling party long ago and unveiling of the UDA is a clear indication that they are fed up with Jubilee.

“They walked out of the Jubilee Party a while back and they are just in associating with it because leaving officially would cost them their positions,” said Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu.

Be that as it may, the overwhelming and overriding expectation of any leadership change must remain not tribe-centered but focused on the interests of all Kenyans, and all of us have a responsibility, this being a matter of compelling public interest.

History will harshly judge those behind the rekindling of tribal machinations, in the name of the now-infamous Hustler Nation movement.